National Food Crime Unit offers tailored support over Christmas

By James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The National Food Crime Unit encouraged businesses to seek advice to help combat fraud
The National Food Crime Unit encouraged businesses to seek advice to help combat fraud

Related tags: Fraud, Food safety

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) has urged food businesses to seek advice to combat fraud over the Christmas period, as it celebrated its first successful sentencing for a food fraudster.

The NFCU encouraged businesses, particularly smaller ones, to make use of its Food Fraud Resilience tool to help understand where they might need further support and protection from food fraud.

Advice and tips for businesses include support such as:

  • Ensuring suppliers to your business are legitimate and tools to recognise this
  • Training employees to recognise food fraud and understand how to report it
  • Being able to recognise orders from fake or cloned companies
  • Probing questions to ask and to not rely on good will or previous working history
  • Recognising when something is too good to be true

£11.6bn cost of food fraud

Steve Smith, head of outreach and prevention at the NFCU said: “Food crime costs UK businesses £11.6bn each year and has a huge impact on businesses, some of whom may never recover from the damaging financial loss. With Christmas upon us, businesses are busy concentrating on trading which is often when they are at their most vulnerable.

“Businesses have faced up to a myriad of extraordinary challenges in the last two years and continue to do so, and, now more than ever, we are encouraging businesses to use the quick and effective tool so we can start a conversation with them about their individual business needs.

“Our aim is to make sure no one gets caught out by food crime, meaning businesses can focus on what really matters to them and their customers at such a busy time.”

Meanwhile, the NFCU has made progress on food fraud investigations, with sentencing following its ​first successful conviction this week.

Food fraud conviction

Mr Jack Finney was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday (21 December) for suppling 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), a highly toxic industrial chemical which he illegally sold as a diet pill for weight loss.

He will now serve 28 months in prison after products were found containing DNP at an address in Northwich during an investigation by the FSA’s NFCU and supported by Cheshire Police, UK Border Force, West Midlands Cyber Crime, the United States Food and Drugs Administration and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Commenting on the conviction, NFCU deputy head Reginald Bevan said the sentencing sent a strong message to anyone seeking to profit from the illegal sale of the life threatening substance.

“We continue to be relentless in pursuing and bringing to justice those who are endangering the public and breaking the law,”​ he added.

“This operation continues to demonstrate how seriously the NFCU takes the illegal sale of DNP for human consumption in the UK and through our close working partnership with local authorities and other law enforcement agencies in the UK and abroad that we are able to tackle offenders, close websites and work to disrupt possible supply routes within and into the UK.”

Related topics: Food Safety

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